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BJP Iron Man melts in 2 days

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By SANJAY K. JHA in Delhi
  • Published 18.05.09

New Delhi, May 18: The Iron Man has shown the malleability of Plasticine.

Soon after his party’s defeat, L.K. Advani had declined to stay on as leader of the Opposition. In less than 48 hours, he has changed his decision.

The party claimed his pirouette came under pressure from senior functionaries who felt the BJP needed Advani’s leadership in these difficult times. But insiders gave a different reason.

Party sources said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had unambiguously conveyed to Advani that he should give up his Lok Sabha post and allow a new leader of the Opposition to emerge. But Advani’s aides and a few second-rung leaders, who are facing the heat for the electoral rout, convinced the Sangh that knee-jerk reactions would hurt the party.

The status-quoists argued that though the BJP did need an overhaul, it should be carried out only after deep introspection and thorough analysis of the poll results.

A senior leader told The Telegraph: “They convinced the RSS that new leaders and deputy leaders in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and a new party president should be elected together to send a big message of change to the people. For this, the whole gamut of party policies and approach must be studied in addition to the reasons for the defeat. That will take time, probably six or seven months.”

Sources said the no-changers were against Sushma Swaraj or Murli Manohar Joshi replacing Advani right now since they feared losing their clout in the party. The status-quoists have strained relations with party president Rajnath Singh, and neither Sushma nor Joshi would have catered to their interests.

The best option for this lobby, therefore, is to buy time and try and recreate a favourable situation by using Advani. They are not bothered that Advani will have less legitimacy as leader of the Opposition after the rout.

Some other BJP leaders feel that Rajnath has failed to show political acumen at this critical juncture and willingly yielded to pressure. They also point to the new Sangh leadership’s failure to force an overhaul.